Protest puts brakes on SGA election

The Sam Houston State University Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual election last week in which the student body elected a new executive board and judicial senators.

The SGA planned to announce the finalized election results April 3, but this announcement is now postponed due to a pending disqualification.

“The results will not be official [Tuesday] because there is a pending protest,” student body President Briauna Augustus said.

After election results were tabulated, the winners were David Eller for president, Alexus Hardy for vice president, Jaidyn Wilkerson for secretary, Christian Wolford for treasurer and Amanda Lee for chief-of-staff.

However, all five of these students were found in violation of an SGA Election Commission code on March 28 when a campaign yard sign was left in front of the Newton Gresham Library with all of their faces on it.

The Election Commission code states that during elections there should not be any form of campaigning.

“I gave them an hour and a half to take it down, and I was pretty lenient about it,” Augustus said. “So, at the latest, the campaigning materials should’ve already been down around 1 p.m. Someone was on campus around 6 p.m. and still found their campaign materials.”

The students involved said that they could not have taken the campaigns down due to weather conditions. However, if they had submitted an email requesting a “state of action,” a statement countering the action, then they would not have been in violation.

According to Augustus, Eller requested the information on how to submit a state of action but never submitted one. The campaigning materials were never removed, and thus violated the Election Commission code.

The Election Commission met on April 3 to discuss the consequences of the code violation, and ultimately decided that Eller should be disqualified while Hardy, Lee, Wilkerson and Wolford should keep their elected positions.

“We are currently under a state of action because David actually did decide to file [against] this particular protest when he found out what the decision was,” Augustus said. “The standing action is that he is currently disqualified, but we cannot make any decisions from the disqualifications until the Supreme Court looks at the decision that the Election Commission is made.”

Supreme Court Justice Frank Parker will either disagree with the decision and dismiss it entirely or take it to the Supreme Court for them to decide. If the Supreme Court agrees with the Election Commission’s decision then Eller will be disqualified officially. The Supreme Court has to make their decision within 72 hours of the state of action’s submission.

In this case, there would be a run-off election for the presidential candidates between second place winners Chloe Henze and Taylor Bailey.

“In our election code, the president has to win by at least two percentage points, and the two candidates are within two points of each other,” Augustus said.

Even if Eller had never run in the election, there would still have to have been a tiebreaker between Henze and Bailey.

If the Supreme Court finds that Eller should be disqualified, Henze and Baily will have three days to campaign for the presidency, and then another ballot will be sent to the student body, in which students will cast their votes for the SGA presidency.

“Since the other four are also involved in the same decision, they do not get to have their official title until it is settled,” Augustus said.

This is because the Supreme Court still has the power to disqualify all five of the candidates involved in the violation if they deem necessary.

The Houstonian will update this article as details unfold.

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